Photo By: Gary Cooper

“Poetry came in search of me,” claimed Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet, long ago. Poetry knocks every one’s door one time or other. Some are kind enough to open the door invite her. Some pretend deep slumber and put a deaf ear to her persistent knocking. It is not simple to get rid of a chasing poem. If you have a dream, you are under the spell of a poem. No society on earth exists without a poem. If people speak words, we call it language. If people are at loss of words to communicate their feelings, poetry makes its entry.

Poetry begins where language ends. Can we imagine poetry without language? No. Language takes another birth to weave poetry. In other words, Poetry immortalizes language. Telugu as language was immortalized a millennium ago. The Telugu script had the magical touch of poetry long before the great poet Nannaya, started transcreating the Maha Bharatha from Sanskrit to Telugu.
Telugu poetry has been flowing as a perennial river for thousand years. The last century of the millennium was more eventful than ever before. This was the century of modernity. Gurajada Appa Rao unveiled modern poem for the first time in Telugu literature. Not only to poetry, he injected modernity to other forms of literature, say short story and drama. He is relevant even today. His works are more modern than most of the present day writings in Telugu.

Many stalwarts like Sri Sri, Joshua, Krishna Sastry, Tilak and Ajantha emerged to carry forward his torch in this Century. Many literary movements have enriched Telugu poetry both in form and content. Of all the movements, the two movements that erupted during the last two decades of the century took away Telugu poetry to unimaginable heights. Those were Feminist and Dalit movements. While eighties witnessed the expression of women’s’ “body politic”, nineties made Dalit poets ventilate their righteous indignation in their poetry of “self- respect’’.

These poets gave new diction and enlivened the Telugu language. Telugu poetry is now entering the new millennium with new voices. Interesting thing is, these poets have picked the threads of modernity left by Gurajada. They owe much to him.

As most of the works of these poets are left not translated into English and other Indian languages. The rest of the world does not know the spirit of the age in Telugu Modern Poetry. Telugu poetry lovers feel disappointed, when a substandard piece of not- so -familiar poet stands as a representative piece of contemporary Telugu poetry in anthologies of Indian poetry.
Tragedies of this nature are not uncommon to Telugu literature.

Satish Chandar

December, 2000


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